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by Lanna Hanson
Chris Larabee nodded to the six agents under his command as he walked
through the work area and then disappeared into his office. A few minutes
later, the door opened and Chris reappeared, leaning against the door
"Children," he finally said after watching them a moment, "Would you
join me in my office for a moment, please?" His gaze went to Josiah and
Nathan and he added, "You two can come too."
The men glanced at each other, then followed their leader back into
"What's up, Pard?" Buck asked as Chris went around his desk and to
"This," Chris replied, pulling aside the curtain.
Everyone's eyes widened at the sight that greeted them. Hanging in
a harness, looking annoyed but calmly at them, was a cow.
"Chris!" JD exclaimed, being the first to find his voice, "That's
a cow outside there!"
"Very good, Mr. Dunne," Ezra replied, sarcasm in his tone. "It's
good to know how far your education extends."
JD glared at him, then said, "But we're twenty stories up! How on
earth did it get up here?"
"That's just what I was wondering," Chris replied, sitting on the
edge of his desk and studying them. "Anyone want to explain?"
"What makes you think it was one of us?" Buck asked.
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe the fact that for the past week and a half,
you four," he indicated Buck, JD, Vin and Ezra, "have been having a little
practical joke feast."
"Wasn't me," JD said. "I wouldn't even know where to go to borrow
an entire cow for a day!"
"Wasn't me either," Buck added, looking at Ezra.
"I assure you, Mr. Larabee," the southerner said, shaking his head,
"That I would never resort to using barnyard animals for a cheep laugh."
Chris' gaze when to Vin. The Texan shrugged, a grin playing on his
lips. "Weren't me, either. Wish it was though. This is damn funny."
Chris was silent for a moment, then said, "All right. Since no one
seems willing to come forward, I'm gonna offer a deal. Admit it and
I'll let it go. We'll contact someone to get that thing down, then go
on with the day."
He raised a brow when no one came forward. JD, who had been standing
at the window, staring at the animal, said, "Uh-oh. Someone's about
to get a nasty surprise."
He turned away, a grossed out look on his face, then said, "Who says
it had to be one of us four? What about Nathan and Josiah?"
"Who's got the time?" Josiah replied, glancing at Nathan. "Brother
Nathan and I have been too busy writing reports and doing research to
Nathan nodded in agreement, a concerned look in his eyes as he watched
the cow. Chris smiled suddenly.
"Well, since none of you won't admit to this, then I have to assume
you have too much time on your hands. So, all four of you get to turn
those reports for next Friday in first thing Monday morning."
"What!" Buck sputtered. "But Chris! I got a date this weekend! I
don't have time to be working on reports!"
Chris shrugged. "Take it up with the silent party responsible for
Betsy out there." He paused, then said, "Dismissed."
The men moved from the room, Josiah saying he'd call someone about
getting the animal down Chris went to the window and opened it. The
cow looked at him, flicked out it's tongue, then let out a long, pitiful,
"Yeah I know, I know," Chris replied, "You'd rather being chewing
crud right now. Don't worry, you'll be down soon."
Out in the work room, Buck was muttering death threats to whoever
had pulled this prank while JD tried to get Vin and or Ezra to confess.
Ezra sighed. "For the last time, Mr. Dunne, it was not me. You may
as well accept your fate and get started on the assignment."
"Hell no!" JD protested. "Why should I get punished for something
one of you did?"
"And how do we know it wasn't you, Mr. Dunne?" Ezra returned.
"Cause it wasn't!"
Before anyone could reply, Josiah's quiet, deep voice caught all their
attention. "You boys really should be more careful about who's gas tank
you fill with sugar."
"Or who's coffee you mix with peanut butter and jelly," Nathan added
with a small smile.
The four looked at one another, then JD exclaimed, "You!?"
Josiah just smiled as he picked up the phone. "Prove it," he replied,
then began speaking to someone.
Vin laughed softly as Ezra said, "Touche Gentlemen."
JD looked at them, then sank into his chair with a groan while Buck
glared as he picked up the phone. "I'll get ya for this," he muttered,
then dialed a number. "Hi, Becky? Buck. Listen...."
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